Bezel punches can be a bit disappointing in some cases, but they do
actually work, especially with smaller sizes and softer metals.
Sometimes they’re good for getting thing started, giving you a nice
round symmetrical bezel that still needs a final touch up with a
burnisher to get the inside edge finished.
One key to using them is that you don’t just hold them straight over
the bezel and rotate the tool on it’s own axis. Instead, you hold it
at an increasing angle to the vertical axis of the stone, and rotate
the whole tool around the bezel that way. Think of the motion of a
childs top, which spins first evenly, then just before it falls over,
the top end is rotating in a circle around the top. (Called
precession, if I recall) The motion of the bezel punch is similar.
What this does is to cause the angle of pressure on the bezel to be
steeper in the down side of the punch, and closer to horizontal on
the up side. The result is that the pressure needed to close the
bezel is being applied to only a smaller section of the bezel at any
time rather than the whole thing, which is often too much metal to
move all at once. You start almost straight up and down, swinging the
tool around the stone, and as you work, lowering the angle of the
tool to further bring the bezel over. These don’t work well with very
thick metal, but with normal sized thinner bezels, they’re a charm.
How far the bezel closes over depends on the angle you hold the tool
at relative to the vertical axis of the stone/bezel. And if the metal
is too stiff, it’s not prohibited to do some of the pushing with a
hammer, though at least one of the sets of these things that I have
(Italian made, for whatever that’s worth… black plastic handle)
has proven to be a bit too brittle steel to like being hammered down.
But just that one set did that.
If the set you have has inside surfaces that are rough enough to
actually be tearing or grinding away the metal, that’s not good.
Smooth them a bit (Cratex or similar rubber wheels work well) But a
little roughness just gives it a bit of tooth to grab the metal.
Makes it burnish a bit more aggressively. But it also leaves a less
polished surface. So whether, and how much, to finish the insides of
the punches is up to you. Personally, I have several sets purchased
over the years. The latest one, also the most costly, (from frei and
borel) is german made, I think, and has nicely finished surfaces
inside, as well as a handle that’s much sturdier than the usual,
enough so that I can use this set with the assitance of a hammer if
I want to be more aggressive than just hand pressure. Even at best,
though, it does often take a good deal of pressure, like any
burnishing operation needing to move significant amounts of metal.
Hope that helps.